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New York Times, Spin, and Vanity Fair contributor Marc Spitz explores the first great cultural movement since Hip Hop: an old-fashioned and yet highly modern aesthetic that’s embraced internationally by teens, twenty and thirty-somethings and even some Baby Boomers; creating hybrid generation known as Twee. Via exclusive interviews and years of research, Spitz traces Generation Twee’s roots from the Post War 50s to its dominance in popular culture today.
Vampire Weekend, Garden State, Miranda July, Belle and Sebastian, Wes Anderson, Mumblecore, McSweeney’s, Morrissey, beards, artisanal pickles, food trucks, crocheted owls on Etsy, ukuleles, kittens and Zooey Deschanel—all are examples of a cultural aesthetic of calculated precocity known as Twee.
In Twee, journalist and cultural observer Marc Spitz surveys the rising Twee movement in music, art, film, fashion, food and politics and examines the cross-pollinated generation that embodies it—from aging hipsters to nerd girls, indie snobs to idealistic industrialists. Spitz outlines the history of twee—the first strong, diverse, and wildly influential youth movement since Punk in the ’70s and Hip Hop in the ’80s—showing how awkward glamour and fierce independence has become part of the zeitgeist.
Focusing on its origins and hallmarks, he charts the rise of this trend from its forefathers like Disney, Salinger, Plath, Seuss, Sendak, Blume and Jonathan Richman to its underground roots in the post-punk United Kingdom, through the late’80s and early ’90s of K Records, Whit Stillman, Nirvana, Wes Anderson, Pitchfork, This American Life, and Belle and Sebastian, to the current (and sometimes polarizing) appeal of Girls, Arcade Fire, Rookie magazine, and hellogiggles.com.
Revealing a movement defined by passionate fandom, bespoke tastes, a rebellious lack of irony or swagger, the championing of the underdog, and the vanquishing of bullies, Spitz uncovers the secrets of modern youth culture: how Twee became pervasive, why it has so many haters and where, in a post-Portlandia world, can it go from here?
Review: Rob Sheffield Marc Spitz
Rob Sheffield, author of Turn Around Bright Eyes, Interviews Marc Spitz
Rob Sheffield (RS): Where does twee come from?
Marc Spitz (MS): Long answer: Twee, the aesthetic, is born during and just after World War Two. Its key figures saw combat and cruelty and destruction. They were scarred by it but not broken. They responded with creativity and sometimes whimsy. I’m speaking of Disney, who was overseas during World War One and made films to rally the troops during the Second World War. So did Theodore Geisel aka Dr. Seuss. And Salinger, maybe the most influential Twee figure, who was a solider and saw the horrors of both combat and the camps and later suffered a nervous breakdown. These are the godfathers of the movement, the ones who responded to horror and pain with creativity. Short answer: Brooklyn. Just kidding.
RS: Your last book, Poseur, documented your rock & roll youth in gloriously excruciating and hilarious detail. Is writing a book about twee a continuation of that project? Is there something autobiographical about Twee?
MS: It's funny because I knew I would be going from one book into the next and it was kind of like going from the dark into the light. I knew there'd be Steiff bears and Sundays records waiting for me at the break of the forest if I could only avoid being eaten by my Elliott Smith LPs (or bears). I had the Twee gene, put it that way, but I also had, like yourself, the reporter gene so I had to hope the latter was dominant.
RS: Why has twee become such a defining style for our moment in history? What’s so twee about the 21st century?
MS: A few things, really: the world got scary on Election night 2000 and then scarier and scarier and sadder and it kind of drove us into a sort of collective bedroom. And our laptop cameras became our diaries, and our books and records our friends and ways of coping. Then there's the marketing aspect. I write about the famous VW Cabriolet commercial that features Nick Drake's "Pink Moon," in the book. It's not much of a jump from that to the Garden State and Juno soundtracks winning Grammys and going platinum. Cool got uncool once the Strokes started to disappoint. Finally there's a real estate issue, which is not exclusive to Brooklyn. It became to expensive to live and make art in as Jeff Daniels would say in The Squid and the Whale "the filets of the neighborhood" so you find enclaves and parties and cafes and ultimately the Times and tourists outside and a lot of these artists are not "city hip" so it seems like twee is spreading.
RS: Who are some of the greatest heroes and icons in twee history?
MS: The aforementioned Disney, Salinger, Seuss, the Eames-es, James Dean (compared to Rock Hudson, Paul Newman, Robert Mitchum etc.), Capote or Capote's literary alter egos (early), Ray Davies, Brian Wilson, Godard, Jean Seberg, The Velvet Underground (esp. when Mo sings) Jonathan Richman, Prince (early), Judy Blume, Roald Dahl, Maurice Sendak, Edwyn Collins, Morrissey, Stipe (early), Calvin Johnson, it goes on and on through Wes Anderson and Zooey Deschanel, who is probably the last great Twee icon.
RS: What is the future of twee? Will there ever be a moment where we see the end of twee as we know it?
MS: You'll notice that most of the people I named above are not minorities. I think like Punk and Hip Hop for a movement to really stick it has to be more inclusive with regard to both race and gender and class. I think the hubbub over season one of Girls was actually a good thing. Lena Dunham addressed it straight on. Twee has been building for about a half century and has just peaked so it's hard to say where it's going. Short answer: To Brooklyn.
Title: Twee: The Gentle Revolution in Music, Books,...
Publisher: It Books
Publication Date: 2014
Book Condition: Used: Good
Book Description It Books, 2014. Paperback. Book Condition: Good. Minor shelf wear Good condition is defined as: a copy that has been read but remains in clean condition. All of the pages are intact and the cover is intact and the spine may show signs of wear. The book may have minor markings which are not specifically mentioned. Most items will be dispatched the same or the next working day. Bookseller Inventory # mon0007689784
Book Description Paperback. Book Condition: Very Good. The book has been read, but is in excellent condition. Pages are intact and not marred by notes or highlighting. The spine remains undamaged. Bookseller Inventory # GOR007179785
Book Description It Books, 2014. Book Condition: Good. Ships from Reno, NV. Former Library book. Shows some signs of wear, and may have some markings on the inside. Bookseller Inventory # GRP87295245
Book Description It Books, 2014. Book Condition: Very Good. Great condition for a used book! Minimal wear. Bookseller Inventory # GRP77602021
Book Description It Books, 2014. Book Condition: Good. Former Library book. Shows some signs of wear, and may have some markings on the inside. Bookseller Inventory # GRP80292594
Book Description It Books, 2014. Book Condition: Very Good. Ships from Reno, NV. Former Library book. Great condition for a used book! Minimal wear. Bookseller Inventory # GRP92061174
Book Description HarperCollins Publishers. Paperback. Book Condition: Good. Book shows a small amount of wear to cover and binding. Some pages show signs of use. Bookseller Inventory # G0062213040I3N00
Book Description HarperCollins Publishers. Paperback. Book Condition: Very Good. Very good condition book with only light signs of previous use. Bookseller Inventory # G0062213040I4N00
Book Description HarperCollins Publishers. Paperback. Book Condition: Very Good. Ex-Library Book - will contain Library Markings. Book shows a small amount of wear - very good condition. Bookseller Inventory # G0062213040I4N10
Book Description HarperCollins Publishers. Paperback. Book Condition: Fair. Bookseller Inventory # G0062213040I5N00